The Iraqi government is backing off its demand that the Blackwater security firm be expelled from Iraq in the wake of apparently unprovoked shootings that left 11 Iraqis dead, according to the LAT. Apparently the argument has been made to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that the 1,000 Blackwater guards who escort US embassy personnel would have to be replaced by troops, who would have to be pulled out of their current attempt to drive Sunni Arab militants out of Baghdad neighborhoods.
A big feature of the literature on decolonization is the delight leaders such as Gamal Abdul Nasser and Ruhollah Khomeini took in abrogating laws bestowing ‘extra-territoriality’ on colonial personnel and even just civilians from the metropole, while in the subject country. Now extra-territoriality is back with a vengeance; and, of course, no colonial enterprise can be run without it. One can’t have persons of the superior race hauled before a native judge; bad show, old boy, to let the wily oriental gentlemen get the upper hand that way.
The argument about whether Cheney/Bush went into Iraq over petroleum is not interesting. Of course they did, one way or another. The question is what exactly they thought they were doing about Iraq’s petroleum. I would argue that they threw public resources (perhaps as much as two trillion dollars worth when all is said and done) to secure profits for private companies. Otherwise, the US public will never, ever realize the sort of savings from the development of Iraqi petroleum that would compensate them for the blood and treasure they have spent in Iraq. (Not to mention the opportunity costs of squandering so many resources on a quagmire, when the public investment could have been put to much better uses).
Over twenty retired generals have now spoken out against the Iraq War, a gut-wrenching decision for these highly conservative lifelong Republicans.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat writing in Arabic reports that Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal warned against any partition of Iraq. He urged national reconciliation, instead. He also criticized Iran for intervening in Iraqi affairs and called for restraint among the country’s neighbors.
At the Global Affairs group blog, Barnett Rubin imagines what he would say about accountability and the Bush administration if he were a politician rather than an analyst:
‘ The Bush-Cheney administration has surrendered much of Afghanistan to the Taliban and much of Pakistan to al-Qaida. They have turned most of Iraq over to Iran, creating the very danger over which they now threaten another disastrous war; they have strained the U.S. Armed Forces to the point of exhaustion, turned the Defense Department over to private contractors, the Justice Department over to the Republican National Committee, and the national debt over to foreign creditors, while leading a party whose single most basic belief is supposed to be that individuals must take personal responsibility for their actions. And they dare to lecture us on national security?’
Then Rubin restates the case from an analytical point of view. It is a beautiful thing to behold. Read the whole thing.
At the Napoleon’s Egypt blog, Lacuee writes:
‘ Egypt has not the slightest resemblance to what has been said of it by our writers. Its soil, indeed, is fruitful, but there is little of it. Nature asks only to produce; but the land is bare, and almost uncultivated. The natives, degraded by slavery, are relapsed into the savage state, retaining nothing of their former civilization but superstition and religious intolerance. I have found them resembling, in every circumstance, the islanders of the South Sea, described by Cook and Forster.
In a word, this country is nothing at present. It merely offers magnificent recollections of the past, and vast, but distant hopes of the future. It is not worth conquering in its present condition: but if statesmen, above all, if able administrators should undertake the management of it for ten years;–if for the same space of time we should employ all our care on it, and sacrifice the whole of its revenues, it might become the most valuable colony of Europe, and effect an important change in the commerce of the world!
But where are they,–these able administrators? ‘